Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine): Foods, Benefits, Deficiency

Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is one of the eight B vitamins. It is involved in over 100 enzymatic reactions in the body. It plays a crucial role in several bodily functions and is essential for maintaining good health.

It helps convert food into energy by assisting in the breakdown of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. It is necessary for the production of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, dopamine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which are important for mood regulation and cognitive function.

It is involved in the production of hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen in red blood cells. Immune system: It supports the immune system by aiding in the production of antibodies and immune cells.

Recommended Intake

The recommended daily intake of vitamin B6 can vary depending on age, sex, and life stage. The values provided below are approximate recommendations based on the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) established by the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine. It’s important to note that these recommendations may be subject to revision and that individual needs may vary. Here are the general recommended daily intakes of vitamin B6:

  • Infants (up to 6 months): 0.1-0.3 mg per day
  • Infants (7-12 months): 0.3-0.4 mg per day
  • Children (1-3 years): 0.5 mg per day
  • Children (4-8 years): 0.6 mg per day
  • Children (9-13 years): 1.0 mg per day
  • Adolescents (14-18 years):
    • Males: 1.3 mg per day
    • Females: 1.2 mg per day
  • Adults (19-50 years):
    • Males: 1.3 mg per day
    • Females: 1.3 mg per day
  • Adults (51 years and older):
    • Males: 1.7 mg per day
    • Females: 1.5 mg per day
  • Pregnancy: 1.9-2.0 mg per day
  • Lactation: 2.0-2.1 mg per day

It’s worth noting that the recommended daily intake is the amount needed to prevent deficiency in the general population. Some individuals, such as those with certain medical conditions or on specific medications, may require higher amounts of vitamin B6.

Food Sources

Vitamin B6 can be found in a variety of foods, both plant-based and animal-based. Here are some common food sources of vitamin B6:

It’s important to note that the vitamin B6 content in foods may vary depending on factors such as freshness, cooking methods, and storage. To ensure an adequate intake of vitamin B6, it’s recommended to consume a balanced diet that includes a variety of these food sources.

Health Benefits

Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, offers several health benefits due to its involvement in various metabolic processes and enzymatic reactions in the body. Here are some of the key health benefits associated with vitamin B6:

1. Energy Metabolism

Vitamin B6 plays a vital role in the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. It helps convert the food we eat into usable energy, which is essential for maintaining overall energy levels and supporting physical activity.

2. Brain Function and Mood Regulation

Vitamin B6 is involved in the synthesis of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and GABA, which are important for brain function and mood regulation. Adequate levels of vitamin B6 are necessary for proper cognitive function, mood stability, and emotional well-being.

3. Red Blood Cell Production

Vitamin B6 is required for the synthesis of hemoglobin, the protein responsible for carrying oxygen in red blood cells. Adequate levels of vitamin B6 help support the production of healthy red blood cells and prevent anemia.

4. Immune System Support

Vitamin B6 plays a role in maintaining a healthy immune system. It is involved in the production of antibodies, which are crucial for fighting off infections and supporting immune function.

5. Nervous System Health

Vitamin B6 is important for the proper functioning of the nervous system. It helps in the formation of myelin, a protective sheath around nerve fibers, and supports the transmission of nerve signals.

6. Hormone Regulation

Vitamin B6 is involved in the synthesis and metabolism of various hormones, including those involved in the regulation of sleep, appetite, and stress response. Adequate levels of vitamin B6 may help maintain hormonal balance.

7. Heart health

Some studies suggest that vitamin B6, along with other B vitamins, may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases by helping to lower levels of homocysteine, an amino acid associated with increased cardiovascular risk when present in high levels.

It’s important to note that while vitamin B6 is essential for these bodily functions, it should be obtained through a balanced diet rather than excessive supplementation.


Vitamin B6 deficiency is relatively uncommon in the general population, but it can occur in certain situations. Some factors that may contribute to a vitamin B6 deficiency include:

  1. Inadequate dietary intake: A diet that is consistently low in vitamin B6-rich foods can lead to a deficiency over time. This is more likely to occur in individuals who have a limited variety of foods in their diet or those who rely heavily on processed foods.
  2. Malabsorption issues: Certain medical conditions that affect the absorption of nutrients in the intestines, such as celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis, can impair the absorption of vitamin B6 and lead to deficiency.
  3. Alcoholism: Chronic alcohol consumption can interfere with the absorption, utilization, and metabolism of vitamin B6, potentially leading to deficiency.
  4. Medications: Certain medications, such as certain anti-seizure drugs (e.g., phenytoin), tuberculosis medications (e.g., isoniazid), and some oral contraceptives, may interfere with vitamin B6 metabolism and increase the risk of deficiency.


  • Anemia
  • Skin diseases
  • Neurological symptom
  • Weak immune function

If you suspect a vitamin B6 deficiency or are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional. They can evaluate your symptoms, conduct appropriate tests, and recommend the necessary interventions, which may include dietary changes or supplementation.


Vitamin B6 supplements are available in various forms, such as tablets, capsules, and liquid. They can be used to address a deficiency or to support specific health conditions under the guidance of a healthcare professional. Here are a few things to keep in mind regarding vitamin B6 supplementation:

  • Consult with a healthcare professional: Before starting any supplementation, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional, such as a doctor or a registered dietitian. They can evaluate your individual needs, assess your health status, and provide appropriate guidance on whether a vitamin B6 supplement is necessary and what dosage is suitable for you.
  • Quality and safety: When purchasing a vitamin B6 supplement, ensure that you choose a reputable brand and look for products that have been independently tested for quality and purity. It’s important to follow the recommended dosage and avoid excessive intake, as high doses of vitamin B6 over a long period can cause nerve damage.
  • Combination supplements: Vitamin B6 is often found in combination with other B vitamins in complex supplements, such as B-complex supplements. These combinations may be beneficial for individuals who require support for overall B vitamin intake. However, it’s important to follow the recommended dosages and consult with a healthcare professional to ensure appropriate supplementation.
  • Whole foods as a primary source: While supplements can be useful in addressing deficiencies or specific health conditions, it’s generally recommended to obtain nutrients, including vitamin B6, from a balanced diet consisting of whole foods. Whole foods provide not only the necessary vitamins and minerals but also other beneficial compounds and fiber that are important for overall health.

Remember, self-diagnosis and self-prescription of supplements can be risky. It’s always best to consult with a healthcare professional who can assess your individual needs and guide you on the appropriate use of vitamin B6 supplements.


Overall, vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is an essential nutrient that plays a crucial role in various bodily functions. Adequate intake of vitamin B6 is important for maintaining overall health and well-being.

If you have concerns about your vitamin B6 intake or suspect a deficiency, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional. They can assess your individual needs, conduct appropriate tests if necessary, and provide personalized recommendations for meeting your vitamin B6 requirements. Remember that a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle are essential for optimal overall health.